It’s Not All Mary Poppins

In Words We Trust…

Today’s SaBloBoMo offering: Jasper Fforde’s “The Well of Lost Plots”.fforde.jpg

In an off-beat word-as-world conceit* Fforde presents a world of books, a place in which characters inhabit their books in a reality discrete from, though related to, the “Outland”. Thursday Next, a woman from the Outland (aka the real world), decides to get away from it all (and she has a LOT to get away from) by living for a year in the plot of an unpublished and probably unpublish-able book in the Well of Lost Plots.

The book is full of fun and frivolous play with the metaphor. We meet “Generics”, characters not yet assigned to a plot; we learn of characters involved in the Character Exchange Program, where bored protagonists get to explore the world of another book; we watch backstories being bartered; we fight Grammasites. In fact, so much silliness is enjoyed this way that you hardly notice a slight thinness in plot from time to time.

I received this book (the third in a series) from a friend. I’ll probably read the others as well – though I’ll take her advice and not read them back-to-back. I suspect she’s quite right when she says “the joke wears a little thin three books in a row”. And when I’m finished, I’ll let my kids read it. All three are avid fans of “The Phantom Tollbooth”, a made-for-kids variation of the same sort of fun; they’ll love this.

*This is for Si, because he always wants to know:

CONCEIT (also called a metaphysical conceit): An elaborate or unusual comparison–especially one using unlikely metaphors, simile, hyperbole, and contradiction. Before the beginning of the seventeenth century, the term conceit was a synonym for “thought” and roughly equivalent to “idea” or “concept.” It gradually came to denote a fanciful idea or a particularly clever remark. In literary terms, the word denotes a fairly elaborate figure of speech, especially an extended comparison involving unlikely metaphors, similes, imagery, hyperbole, and oxymora.

January 29, 2007 Posted by | books, memes and quizzes | 7 Comments